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Compass Box No Name

Variations of smoke

8 691

@Pierre_WReview by @Pierre_W

25th Aug 2018

1

  • Nose
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  • Taste
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  • Finish
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  • Balance
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  • Overall
    91

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Compass Box “No Name” was released in October 2017. According to the company, the whisky was given “no name” to let it speak for itself. It is a blend composed of 75.5% Ardbeg (matured in re-charred American standard barrels), 13.4% Clynelish (matured in re-charred hogsheads), 10.6% Caol Ila (matured in refill American standard barrels) and 0.5% of the “Highland Malt Blend”, a vatting of Clynelish, Dailuaine, and Teaninich that is recasked and matured for four and a half years in what Compass Box call their “highly active heavy toast French oak hybrid casks”. Very intriguing. For more details I recommend the fact sheet on Compass Box’s website.

This is a smoky nose, for sure. It begins with a load of brine and the kind of damp smoke that you are left with after rain has extinguished your camp fire. Unusual but interesting. Then notes of lemons and green apples come to the fore, typical flavours that can be found in younger Ardbeg expressions, if I may say. After that the dampness fades and the smoke gets dry and peaty.

The palate is medium-bodied and oily. The smoke flavours are now quite tarry and are accompanied by notes of lemons, green apples, grapefruits, and a hint of liquorice. A bit sour but also salty at the same time. The brine is still there, too, but it is the tarry smoke that keeps the flavours together.

The finish is long and warming. There now is a mixture of flavours of brine, lemons, liquorice, and a touch of leather – a nice combination of salt and sweetness.

I am very much taken with this Compass Box expression. It is both complex and at the same time very, very drinkable. In fact, I bought my bottle two months ago and there is about one fifth left. This is just too good not to be enjoyed on a regular basis. I love the different kinds of smoke that you encounter when tasting this, as well as the interplay between salty, sour and sweet flavours. In my view, this is blending work at its very, very best.

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6 comments

@casualtorture
casualtorture commented

What do you mean by "American Standard" barrels? New American oak?

26 days ago 0

@Victor
Victor commented

@Pierre_W, thank you very much for your lovely and very informative review. Compass Box does many things very well. Your bottle 80% consumed in 2 months time, implicitly by you alone, is in itself convincing testimony of how much you like Compass Box No Name.

I find it interesting that Mr. Glaser has gone back in this case to blending malts. There for a long while his focus was on blending 'Scotch'. It may still be that he is most interested in producing Scottish blends and No Name is an exception to the company's current primary emphasis on making blended Scotch.

26 days ago 2Who liked this?

@OdysseusUnbound
OdysseusUnbound commented

Thanks for the review of what sounds like a wonderful whisky. I’m a bit surprised at the relatively small amount of Caol Ila in the blend, given your notes. When I think Caol Ila, I think green apples and brine alongside the vegetal smoke (burning leaves).

26 days ago 1Who liked this?

@cricklewood
cricklewood commented

@Pierre_W thank you for this well detailed review, it sounds like quite a nice vatting, an interesting twist on Ardbeg. I think the Compass Box team's more sucessful blends are the ones with fewer elements, where he is looking to apply a counterpoint or variation to a known contributing factor.

@casualtorture ASB is the standard American Oak barrels used by the bourbon industry (180-200 L), in this case they are re-charred in between fills (a practice I believe John Glaser likes a lot, especially when applied to Clynelish).

Many Scottish distilleries like using Hogsheads instead which are disassembled ASB's that are re-coopered into slightly larger barrels (225-250L) with new ends, this allows to store more whisky in same size warehouse and much like with "butts" believe the larger casks makes slower but better maturation.

25 days ago 3Who liked this?

@Pierre_W
Pierre_W commented

@Victor, @OdysseusUnbound and @cricklewood: gentlemen, thank you for your comments. And @cricklewood, thank you for helping me out on the ASB - I could not have put this more succinctly myself. I can confirm that apart from two samples that I put away for, well, fellow malt maniacs, there indeed is only 20% left of my bottle. It is very rare for me to enjoy a whisky at this pace (quite apart from the question whether this speed of consumption is healthy), however I am already thinking of getting another bottle. It's not cheap over here in Switzerland, about $165, but then there were 15,000 bottles released and that's it. What to do...

25 days ago 2Who liked this?

Mackstine commented

Completely agree with you review. I liked this one so much that I bought 3 bottles myself. There's something about Compass Box's peated expressions that is just magical - I think Glaser has quite a knack for them. The Flaming Heart 15th anniversary edition was also really spectacular (there is 30 yr old Caol Ila in it after all).
AND to top it off, it's sold at a remarkably fair price! Love CB.

18 days ago 1Who liked this?

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